Visiting Australia is an exciting prospect, especially for travelers who have never been there before. After all, there is so much to see and do there and so many things to experience that most people have only heard about. There are also a number of things that visitors to Australia should know about before they get there. That way, maybe they won’t get sunburned, embarrassed, or have an unfortunate encounter with one of Australia’s many species of wild animals.
Visitors to Australia will need either a visa for the country or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Depending on where they are coming from, they will need to fulfill different rules regarding COVID-19. Australia has strict entry rules right now and most incoming travelers have to pay the government to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel.
Australia’s borders are quite strict, too. They may not allow visitors to bring in a number of food items, like meat, vegetables, fruit, plants, eggs, and seeds. Prescription medications may require a written declaration by a doctor. Animal products that are not food are also forbidden, including skins, bones, feathers, and more.
Australia is a lot bigger than most travelers think it is. In fact, it’s about 75% the size of the United States. This means that most visitors will not get to see the whole country unless they plan to travel there for more than six months. The size of the country and the fact that much of the interior is a desert means that getting around might take longer than expected, too. Traveling through the Outback often means long days spent without seeing many (if any!) other human beings.
Driving through the center of Australia takes careful planning. Travelers will want to make sure that they have access to a vehicle that can handle the trip they want to take. They will also want to be sure that they have a reliable route that contains, among other things, regular access to food, gas, and lodging.
Flying between cities is easier, but it still takes time. A single flight from the east coast of Australia to the west coast takes five-and-a-half hours! Taking the train is also an option. These are better for the planet and allow travelers to see the scenery without the stress of driving. Bus lines in the country also offer to hop/hop-off passes. These allow travelers to ride multiple times without having to purchase a new ticket for each destination.
There are a number of different types of accommodations in Australia, just like there are in most Western countries. Visitors can choose between luxurious hotels, vacation rentals, bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels, and more. If a traveler wants to find a certain type of accommodation in urban Australia, they should be able to do so.
In more rural areas, there will be a lot fewer choices when it comes to places to stay. Some small towns may only have a single hotel. If travelers plan to road trip through rural areas, they will want to make sure that they have adequate accommodations along the way.
Some visitors choose to rent a campervan and take it with them as they travel around the country. This can be a great way to combine travel and lodging together, though visitors will need to factor in the price of gas (which is higher in Australia than it is in some other countries). They will also need to make sure that they have a place to park their van every night.
Because Australia is so large, it experiences all sorts of weather. There’s no way to make one generic statement about Australian weather. Travelers from the northern hemisphere should remember that the seasons are swapped in Australia. Their summer runs roughly from December through March. However, Australian summers are significantly warmer than summers in most of North America and Europe. In fact, recent summers have been so hot that wildfires have raged through parts of the country.
Similarly, some parts of Australia have received massive amounts of rain in recent years, while other parts even receive snow regularly in the winter. Travelers need to research the part of the country they are visiting and the time of year of their visit to know what weather to expect. Overall, fall and spring are the best times to visit Australia. This is roughly October and November, then April and May. Travelers who visit during these times have the best chance of hitting awesome weather.
Australians are, overall, extremely friendly and love to talk. People from quieter countries might be surprised at just how often they are greeted or at how many conversations they end up having with strangers. Many Aussies have experience traveling, too, so they may want to hear about a visitor’s experiences while sharing their own.
If a traveler gets invited to a BBQ, and the locals are so friendly that they might, they should make sure they bring something to share. Acceptable dishes include a side dish, a salad, or drinks to share. Note that most informal Australian hangouts are BYOB, so visitors should make sure they bring something that they like to drink.
Alcohol is a huge part of Australian culture. Any store selling it is referred to as a “Bottle-O”. Beer is the most common alcoholic beverage in Australia and craft beer is king. If travelers prefer wine, they can buy a “goon”, which is a 5-liter box of wine with a tap affixed for easy access. Coffee is also important to many Australians. Visitors who don’t drink alcohol don’t need to worry, because they can bond with locals over caffeine, instead. Australia has many famous coffee houses and many of the people are coffee connoisseurs.
There are a few things that travelers should know about Australian culture before they visit the country.